What happens when your spouse has a storm brewing inside of him or her? How do you deal with the out of nowhere outbursts, punishing silent treatment and hurtful words? How can you have a loving relationship when your spouse’s anger is running rampant? Is your only choice to grin and bear it or should you pack your bags and leave your angry spouse?
If you know that this angst is a foreign entity and it will not escalate into physical or verbal abuse, and if your relationship is truly worth saving because you know that there is no greater love, then here are eleven tips to help you stay afloat during those ebbs and flows.
1. Create a reflection space for yourself. Create a place in your home where you can reflect on the good in your spouse and your relationship. Put favorite photos of the two of you or other cherished mementoes there. Create a playlist of love songs that send you down memory lane or make you want to turn off the lights Teddy Pendergrass style. Envision the husband or wife who made you laugh, wrote you love poems, supported your aspirations, and stayed up all night with your sick child so you could get some rest. Let those recollections weave through your heart so that your spouse’s season of anger won’t overwhelm you.
2. Don’t personalize your spouse’s anger. Don’t buy into the “If only’s.” If only I was a better cook, cleaned the house more, made more money, lost weight, etc., my spouse wouldn’t be so full of rage. The changes you make may make your spouse happy momentarily, but the root of his or her anger is much deeper, and the changes you make are only a temporary fix.
3. Although it may be difficult not to, don’t lash back. When you refuse to be a combater your spouse will have no choice but to calm down and interact with you in a more positive way.
4. Discuss with your spouse the importance of leaving a legacy of what a healthy relationship looks like for your children. Discuss negative traits that were passed on to both of you from your extended families and how it affected each of your lives. Talk about ways you can break the cycle and not pass these negative traits on.
5. Validate, validate, validate. Sometimes those who are the angriest and the most unlovable need the most validation. Your spouse may seem confident, but when you peel back the layers, there may be a lot of insecurities, so focus on making more positive comments than negative. You can also gift your spouse with a self-help book to help change his or her inner mindset.
Fill your spouse’s life with laughter. Laughter is healing. Put funny jokes on the refrigerator, text jokes to each other, make silly faces, watch a Kevin Hart or Tyler Perry movie. It’s hard to stay mad when you’re laughing so hard it hurts in a good and healthy way.
7. Write your spouse a letter. A letter is less confrontational and you can get your points across without being cut off. Try not to point the finger but voice your concerns about how you feel.
8. Don’t be a scapegoat. If you did something to anger your spouse admit it, ask for forgiveness, and make amends. But don’t be so ridden with guilt about your transgressions that you allow him or her to verbally abuse you. Be loving but firm about setting boundaries in how you will be treated.
9. Get intervention. If your spouse can’t get a handle his or her anger, seek help from a counselor. Even if your spouse refuses to accompany you, go so that you’ll learn ways to cope.
10. Don’t expect perfection. There’ll be days when your spouse’s anger is triggered due to just the daily grind of living. Put the children to bed early or go for a drive and allow him or her to vent. Be that listening ear he or she may need.
11. Love your spouse unconditionally. We would never stop loving our two year old for throwing a temper tantrum, or our sixteen year old for rebelling. We would be there, even when they try our patience. Find ways to show your spouse how much you appreciate him or her and don’t forget to get the children involved. The little ones can make cards, the older ones can cook a special dinner. In time, with your unwavering love and prayers and constructive countermeasures, your spouse’s angry outbursts will be few and far between.